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Sustainability means stewarding all resources so that consumption does not prevent or exceed replenishment.

Durham Academy thrives today because it has sustainably managed its financial and human resources over the 90 years of its existence. We recognize a need to extend this approach to include the natural environment.

Guided by its mission to prepare students to live moral, happy, and productive lives, Durham Academy now turns to developing a more balanced relationship between the school and the natural systems on which it relies. We seek to reduce and eventually eliminate our contributions to climate change and biodiversity loss, thereby becoming a model of good environmental stewardship. We will do so by educating all constituents, fostering creative problem-solving, and acting with awareness of our inescapable interdependence.

Living Sustainably Blog

Student plants tree by the Upper School track

Sustainability Goals at DA

4-Year SMART Goals
  • Incorporate Education for Sustainability into all subject matter at all levels

  • Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 25%

  • Increase Biodiversity on campus by replacing 2 or more acres of grass and exotic plants with native plants and trees

Long-Term Aspirational Goals
  • Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 50% by 2030

  • Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Net Zero by 2050

Partners in Sustainability

Chalk art reading %22love the earth%22

Sustainability efforts at DA include both education and concrete action to reduce the school's carbon footprint.

Jaimie Cloud speaks with teachers, students and parents.

Durham Academy kicked off its partnership with Jaimie Cloud of The Cloud Institute in summer 2022 with a two-day seminar open to students, faculty, staff and parents. 

Students creating an insect hotel at the Sustainability Fair

The annual Upper School Sustainability Fair includes a variety of stations, offering students ideas for incorporating sustainability into their lives – like creating "insect hotels."

Students audited trash in Durham Academy dumpsters to find ways to reduce landfill waste.

Students haven't been afraid to get dirty in the name of saving the Earth. After a garbage audit found that a large portion of the landfill-destined trash comprised paper towels, students successfully advocated for compost receptacles to be placed in bathrooms.

Blender bike

At the 2023 Sustain-In, students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni brainstormed ideas for making positive impacts on the environment and checked out novel tactics, like this "blender bike" that whips up smoothies, sans electricity.

Through a 2022 Innovation Journey Fund grant, DA has engaged two groups to support our journey to environmental sustainability:

  • Jaimie Cloud of The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education leads professional development sessions and provides coaching for teachers and administrators to incorporate principles of Education for Sustainability (EfS) in Durham Academy's curriculum.

  • GreenPlaces works with students, faculty, and staff to do a formal, annual assessment of Durham Academy’s Greenhouse Gas emissions. This includes energy and water use, student and faculty commute, solid waste, transportation, cleaning and maintenance practices, etc. GreenPlaces also advises the school about strategies for reduction. 

Educating for Sustainability

Sustainability in the News

Board's Endorsement Elevates Sustainability Goals at DA

This holiday season, you could find an annual tradition of giving in every corner of DA — from each of its four divisions to the DA Family Association. Community partnerships old and new reminded students, staff and families of how simple it can be to get involved, to lift up others and to renew a spirit of service.